Get Smart Before Buying or Selling

Buying or selling a property is a complex legal process and is probably the biggest financial transaction you’ll ever be involved in, so it’s essential you find out as much as possible about the buying and selling process before you begin.

Buyers and sellers guide 

This simple, easy to read guide provides buyers and sellers with information on key things they should know about the buying and selling process, what to expect from their real estate agent and the different methods of buying or selling.  

Buyers and sellers guide - Get smart before buying and selling property (.pdf 692 KB)  

What you need to know if you’re buying or selling a property 


Get independent legal advice 

Get your own independent legal advice. The value of a property transaction is significant and so is the potential cost if it goes wrong. Remember: agency agreements and sale and purchase agreements are legally binding contracts.  

Read and understand agreements before you sign them 

Read and understand agency agreements and sale and purchase agreements before you sign them. And don’t forget you can negotiate their terms and conditions. 

We publish guides to these important legally binding contracts. Agents must give you a copy of the relevant guide before you sign an agency agreement or a sale and purchase agreement. We also recommend reading the guides before meeting with agents.  

Read the Agency Agreement Approved Guide  (.pdf 547KB) 

Read the Sale and Purchase Agreement Approved Guide (.pdf 551KB) 

Find out about your agent 

You can search our online public register of licensed real estate agents to see if your agent is licensed and whether they have had any complaints upheld against them.  

Contact us if you have a problem with an agent 

We are responsible for dealing with complaints about the behaviour of agents and we run an independent, fair and open complaint process. Read more about making a complaint. 

What you also need to know if you’re buying  

Remember the agent works for the seller, not you

Remember that the agent works for the seller, not you. However, they must still treat you fairly. 

Do your own research about the property 

You can ask the agent anything you want to know about the property and they can’t withhold anything they know. However, you shouldn’t rely only on their information and you should do your own research. Consider getting a property inspection report, Land Information Memorandum (LIM), and a title search. 

Depending on the property, other things to consider getting checked out are: weather tightness issues; possible p contamination; the condition of plumbing and wiring etc.

Property tax

Property tax rules now apply to properties bought on or after 1 October 2015.  If you buy and sell a property within two years, you will need to pay tax on any income you earn from the sale unless the property is your main home or another exemption applies. 

There are also new information requirements around providing a New Zealand IRD number and a Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) from any overseas countries where you have to pay tax on your worldwide income (if you have one).

Find out more from the Inland Revenue website.​ 

Residential Land Withholding Tax (RLWT)

If you purchased a property on or after 1 October 2015 and sold it within two years, you will need to complete a residential land withholding tax declaration form stating whether or not you are an offshore person and if you need to pay RLWT. 

RLWT only applies to offshore persons and it may be deducted from residential property sales by offshore persons who are selling within two years of purchasing a property. 

Find out more from the Inland Revenue website.​

Your lawyer will talk to you about any tax implications.

Read more about what you need to know